Located on the Caribbean between Mexico and Guatemala, Belize is one of the last remaining countries still blessed with an abundance of pristine nature. With over a third of the country set aside as a national park or protected reserve, Belize is a largely rural country with a laid-back and people-friendly attitude. And, thanks to generous policies instituted by the government, Belize is also one of the best countries in the world to move to, invest in, or retire to.
If you are considering moving to or retiring in Belize in 2020, here are a few things to know:
Initial Immigration Costs
Probably the easiest way to move to Belize is to take advantage of the generous terms of Belize’s Qualified Retired Persons (QRP) program. Despite its name, the QRP program is open for qualifying individuals age 45 years or older who can demonstrate that they have a fixed income of $2,000 per month or more from Social Security, a pension, or other form of annuity. Qualifying individuals are then eligible to move their entire family to Belize as well as import all personal goods (including vehicles) tax and duty-free. To apply for the QRP program, it is best to consult with a lawyer. As general information, the program’s fees are quite reasonable, rarely exceeding $2,100 for a married couple.
Another factor to consider is transportation costs from your country and city of origin and Belize. Thanks to stiff competition in the market, all of North America’s major airlines now offer non-stop service to Belize, including American Airlines, Delta, United, Southwest, Air Canada, and WestJet.
Cost of Living
Depending on your needs and lifestyle, Belize is usually far more affordable for the average retiree than in most cities in North America. Retirees in Belize usually benefit from reduced costs thanks to an abundance of good weather (that promotes health and happiness), organic, locally-grown foods, very affordable medical care, and a relaxed lifestyle. Other expenses like housekeeping services can be had at very reasonable prices, rarely exceeding $20 a day.
Typical Costs in Belize
With year-round sun and a warm climate, most fruits and vegetables are plentiful and very affordable in Belize. Other staples like rice, fish, chicken, and eggs can be found anywhere. Although Belize does not have any international fast food chains like KFC or McDonald’s, it has a countrywide network of food vendors selling tasty treats for $5 or less. Dinner for two at a mid-range restaurant in Belize costs around $30.
For anyone wanting to retire and enjoy the good life, Belize pretty much checks all the boxes. Foreigners are welcomed and made to feel right at home, benefiting from generous government programs that make it easy to obtain legal residency without a lot of upfront fees.
Two of the best places to retire in Belize are Orchid Bay and Cerros Sands, both retirement communities are located in Belize’s scenic Corozal District and offer villas, land, and condominiums. For more information about Orchid Bay, please visit Orchid Bay and for more information about Cerros Sands, please visit: Cerros Sands.
10 Reasons to Retire in Belize
If the following 10 reasons to retire in Belize don’t convince you to start making plans to move here, we invite you to visit in person where you’ll discover plenty more!
1. English is Belize’s official language, so you won’t need a translation guide or app. Whom can you thank? Belize was a British colony for 119 years.
2. It takes only a few hours to fly to back to Toronto, Calgary, Miami, Houston, and Dallas thanks to frequent flights on Westjet, Air Canada, Southwest, American, Delta, United and regional carriers.
3. You can afford to retire here. For example, ex-pat favorite, Orchid Bay and Cerros Sands offers beachfront condos, homes and lots with state-of-the-art infrastructure. Waterway villas with verandas overlooking rainforests and the sea boast pre-construction pricing starting in the low $200s USD.
4. Belize’s Qualified Retired Persons program offers unprecedented retirement perks for anyone over the age of 45, including zero property taxes and financial benefits you must read to believe.
5. There is no end to nature’s bounty in Belize where beaches, jungles, rainforests, caves and Mayan ruins are so numerous; it could take years to see everything.
6. The weather is either perfect or near-perfect 12 months a year. When the green season comes, showers stop as quickly as they start and for some reason, Belize rains prefer to fall at night when everyone’s tucked into bed.
7. You’ll be immediately embraced by a vibrant ex-pat community eager to involve you in myriad activities so you have a social life from the get-go.
8. Deep sea, scuba dive and fish nonstop and year-round in the ocean, rivers, streams and lagoons.
9. Grab a slice of urban excitement by hanging out in lively towns like Corozal, San Pedro, and San Ignacio.
10. Live in Corozal for around $18,000 USD annually and enjoy the world’s lowest inflation rate!
Want To Move To Belize? 10 Things To Know
Belize is one of the most popular getaway spot for vacationers but it makes an even more picturesque oasis to live. Before moving to Belize, you have to make sure that you do your research. Listed below are 10 things you should be aware of before you move to Belize.
1. Why Settle in Belize?
Belize is a one stop shop for a beach and jungle vacation, but it can also provide an incredible haven to live in. The main reasons retirees move to Belize is because of the warm weather, white sandy beaches, lush rainforest and unlimited adventures like hiking, canoeing and bird watching.
2. Decide Where You Want To Live
Belize has the best of both worlds – Lush Jungle and Turquoise Caribbean Sea. Before buying real estate in Belize, you have to decide whether you want to wake up to the sound of the waves crashing against the shore or the sounds of nature in the rainforest.
3. Decide Your Price Limit
Although Belize may be a more expensive destination to live in than for example Guatemala, it is relatively cheap for a picturesque dream home. Homes in Belize can range anywhere from $15,000 to $500,000 so you have to decide your price limit before you begin shopping. Our friends at Orchid Bay and Cerros Sands can help you find the perfect retirement home. They offer villas, condominiums and land in an established community.
4. Know Your Benefits
Moving to Belize has many added benefits other than just having a vacation home to live in year round. The country for example, has very lenient laws on residency and relief of taxes for businesses/retirees investing in the country.
5. Understand The Population Of The Country Is Like A Big City
The entire population of Belize is 355,000 people and it is like the population of a metro city in North America. You have to be prepared for this type of change. Belize as a country lacks many resources such as a tax base to sustain an infrastructure of roads to fully support its tourist economy.
6. Be Ready To Shop Somewhere Other Than Wal-Mart
Although Wal-Mart is a popular chain that seems to be worldwide, the country of Belize does not feature this chain store. When moving to Belize, you have to be well prepared to shop locally and use the resources that are available to you.
7. There is No language barriers
Because English is the official language of Belize, you do not need to learn a new language. The entire population speaks English and it is even mandatory for all kids in school to speak and be fluent in the official language of the country. Spanish, Mayan, and Garifuna are other languages that are spoken in Belize.
8. Know The Rules For Bringing Items Into The Country
When moving household items into the country, you are allowed to bring items that you will personally use. You are not allowed to bring any items into the country that you plan to re-sell at any time.
9. The Currency is Very Easy
The Belizean dollar is pegged to the U.S. dollar at BZ $2 to US $1, and both currencies are in free circulation. Therefore, there’s no real adjustment required to a new currency.
10. Friendly, welcoming people
Belizeans are some of the friendliest people on Earth and make everyone feel welcome.
These are just 10 things to consider before permanently relocating to Belize. Belize is a gorgeous destination and can make dreams come true.
Belize Immigration & Entry Requirements
To enter Belize, all most visitors need is a valid passport that won’t expire for at least 90 days. Cruise ship passengers are exempt from these requirements.
Except for cruise ship passengers, all visitors entering Belize must show that they have a return ticket. Visitors may also be required to demonstrate that they have sufficient funds to cover the costs of their time in Belize.
Anyone who is an American, Canadian, EU, or CARICOM citizen can enter Belize for up to 30 days. Likewise, anyone with a valid U.S. residency permit (“green card”) or a Schengen Zone visa in their passport can also enter Belize for up to 30 days.
If you’re unsure whether or not you need a visa to enter Belize, you can contact the Belizean Embassy in your country. In the United States, the Embassy of Belize is located at 2535 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, in Washington, D.C. Their phone number is (202) 332-6741. If there is not a Belizean embassy in your country, you can route your queries through the nearest British Embassy.
Staying Longer in Belize
After 30 days, if you wish to remain in Belize, you must apply for a visa extension from the Immigration and Nationality Department. This extension is valid for 30 days and can be renewed every month for up to a year. After a year, you can apply for permanent residency.
The main office of the Belize Immigration and Nationality Department is in Belmopan. Their phone number is (501) 822-2662. There are also satellite offices in Dangriga, Belize City, Corozal, and Orange Walk.
Motor Vehicles and Boats
If you’re driving or boating into Belize from Guatemala or Mexico, you must purchase a temporary import permit at the border. This permit is valid for 30 days and can be renewed at the Immigration and Nationality Department.
Although there are no fees or costs (for individual people) to enter Belize, all foreign visitors must pay an exit tax when leaving the country.
In some cases, this exit tax may be included in the price of your airfare or cruise. If not, the exit fee ranges from $20 to $57.50, the price depending on whether you fly out of Belize or leave via a land/maritime border.
Tourists are welcome in Belize without a visa if they are citizens of:
The European Union, Switzerland, Iceland and Norway
The United States (and its territories)
British Commonwealth nations (with some exceptions – see below)
For questions about things to see and do in Belize, please contact us.
Get a copy of The Ultimate Belize Bucket List! Written by Larry Waight, a local with more than twenty years of experience in the travel industry, the book is packed with tips, information, and recommendations about all of the best things to see and do in Belize.